tv The Lead With Jake Tapper CNN December 20, 2013 1:00pm-2:01pm PST
the united states. but we'll leave that, bob, for another occasion to continue the conversation. bob baer, our cnn national security analyst. i'll be back in one hour. much more coming up in "the situation room" 5:00 p.m. eastern. right now, jake tapper picks up our special coverage with "the lead." president obama looks forward to 2013 being nothing but a memory. a painful, painful memory. i'm jake tapper. this is "the lead." the national lead. the president facing up to the year's many failures. >> i know you are all eager -- >> will this go down as the worst year of his presidency? the money lead. it's a show about his family, about his business, shot in his home. now that "duck dynasty's" patriarch is suspended, how will the show go on without him? will the family even let it. and the pop culture lead.
for some it's not christmas until they watch this movie. is "love actually" the most divisive christmas movie of all time? good afternoon. i'm jake tapper. we begin with the national lead. president obama would probably like nothing more than to take a knee, run out the clock on what's been, to put it kindly, a challenging year. to put it less kindly, you could call it a nod to "barack obama and the terrible horrible very bad year." before the president could say aloha to washington and to hawaii, where the first family will vacation for the next 16 days, the president took part in the unofficial tradition of a year end presidential news conference. this year, the president watched as his administration fumbled the rollout of healthcare.gov. the public learned of the massive extent of the nsa's reach thanks to damaging leaks. there was the irs scandal, questions about what happened in syria. i could go on and on at length. the president may have been
expecting the first question he got from the associated press. >> has this been the worst year of your presidency? >> i got to tell you, that's not how i think about it. i look at this past year, there are areas where there have obviously been some frustrations where i wish congress had moved more aggressively. if you're measuring this by polls, my polls have gone up and down a lot through the course of my career. >> about those polls that the president claims not to be too worried about, here's the latest cnn/orc poll showing his approval rating, 41%. it matches the all time low for him on our polling. so was this the worst year of his presidency and where does the administration go from here? let's bring in our panel. cnn political commentator and republican strategist, kevin madden. washington bureau chief for "usa today" susan page. and cohost of cnn's "crossfire" van jones. so the president was asked what his biggest mistake was this year and this is what he said.
>> it happened in the first month, first six weeks, in a way that was not at all acceptable. since i'm in charge, obviously we screwed it up. >> he's talking about obamacare there. was obamacare the biggest mistake of the year? >> what a year when the questions at the end of the year is was this your worst year ever, was this your biggest mistake, will you ever improve in the polls because you're in such a terrible state. yes, can you imagine. obamacare, his biggest legislative achievement now his biggest problem, the one that's defined him in a way that likens him really in a lot of ways to president george w. bush and the iraq war. very different enterprises but the effect on the presidencies i think are quite similar. >> would you have advised the president to have answered any of these questions differently? i thought he did a pretty good job of staying on message and not answering questions which is what politicians do. >> yeah. the overall goal here was to do
exactly that, stay on message and not make any news. i think for the large part he was very successful today. i actually think he answered that question about what his biggest mistake was perfectly. to tell you the truth, to answer it any differently, i think he would really hurt his credibility. if the president is going to rebound, if he's going to rebuild these numbers, he has to get that trust back and that level of credibility back with the american people because right now, it's at an all time low. >> van, how does he rebuild? 41% approval, that's really low. that's george w. bush low. and george w. bush as you know never climbed out of that hole. he never got back to 50% which is where you need to be, over 50%. how does the president do it? >> first, it was very interesting. he was definitely doing his best mohammed ali rope-a-dope, laying on the ropes, taking tough questions and hoping the next round will be better. he was trying to get on air force one today and he succeeded. he did not make news which was his goal. but in the background, while we focus on the lumps, there are
some good things beginning to emerge and surface. the economy is beginning to come forward. one of the quarters got revised up to 4% growth. >> i was actually surprised he didn't talk about that more. >> i would have been pounding on that. 4% growth. you're chasing china at that point. so that was good. the other thing he missed a huge opportunity because of the fatigue to pound on the fuel prices. just think of gas prices going up the way they're going down. he would be getting killed on that. so i think when you have this level of fatigue and just get me to the vacation, you miss some opportunities. he missed some opportunities to brag on himself. >> one of the reasons why is i think the white house is very aware there is a canyon between some of the economic indicators, the metrics of it and the way people feel about it. like whether or not they feel the economy's growing at 4% or they feel like there's a lot of economic optimism right now. i think there's a certain level of economic exasperation. now, whether or not that changes over the next year remains to be seen. but i think that was the delicate balance that the president and the white house had today. >> there was an interesting moment, a few interesting
moments, one when john karl asked the president about his difficult year and what it meant to him on a personal level. >> it's not that i don't engage in a lot of self-reflection here. i promise, i probably beat myself up even worse than you or ed henry does. on any given day. but i have also got to wake up in the morning and make sure that i do better the next day. >> he seemed a little downtrodden there. >> yeah. obviously, but i think -- >> he looks very tired. >> he's tired. he's tired. listen, you're trying to bicycle across the country and your opposing party has the brake on the whole time, you get a little tired. but i thought it was really interesting that those were the moments where i think people like him a little bit more, when he's not just trying to push through all his talking points and he gets a little more human. i think what you're going to see is, you get six more months of
this kind of economic performance, unemployment is continuing to go down, you do have better growth, you have the stock market there and if he can then start hammering on this question around minimum wage and put the republicans in a box, because the tea party folks even want minimum wage to go up, you start to see a little bit of a shift. >> the only way you see a shift here and he gets out of this hole is with reality. you need the economy to continue to do what it started to do which is pick up. you need unemployment to drop more and most of all you need the affordable care act to work. you need the website to be working on the front side, you need it to work on the back side when it goes to the insurance companies. the only thing that will save president obama from george w. bush's fate is reality. >> he seemed to be setting the stage for that, saying like 2014, that will be a big year, we'll have a lot of good things happening. it was kind of buried in this euyore kind of move. >> the next big speech he gives will be the state of the union. he needs to show a lot more energy than he was showing there. >> i think you're right but this is where i disagree with van. when folks see the president saying i beat myself up, they do
not care. they don't care that the president's hard on himself. what they want to know is that there is concrete solutions, that he's going to do something to right the ship, do something to work with congress. i thought he was still pretty defiant when he was talking about congress, saying things like there's a lot of brinksmanship up there. folks know that but they want the president to take a leading role in stopping that or building the legislative coalitions that he needs to get things done on capitol hill. >> kevin's right. you see his internal struggle. he has to make a decision, does he want to breathe more oxygen on this bipartisan moment and really be the guy standing for that or does he want to keep punching back on the republicans. he's not made up his mind. >> i thought speaker gingrich made a good point where he said he start off the recoyear in a defiant tone and ended it the same way. it will be interesting to see whether this changes between here and the state of the union and whether the state of the union provides a bigger platform for progress. >> one other interesting answer he gave when brianna keilar asked him about the upcoming
debt ceiling fight, some republicans have suggested that they're not just going to raise the debt ceiling without getting some sort of concession, and here was his response to that. >> to repeat, the debt ceiling is raised simply to pay bills that we have already accrued. it is not something that is a negotiating tool. it's not leverage. >> jack lew, treasury secretary, is saying we have seven weeks to raise the debt ceiling. where are we heading here? >> how did the showdown work for the republicans last time? not so well. i'm assuming it's like they have been burned on the stove and will not jump back on it and there will be not the same kind of showdown next time. but the tea party republicans, maybe they will do it again. >> i think this is an issue the republicans believe we need a showdown on. most of them believe they are in alignment with the public on that. it's interesting he said i'm not willing to negotiate but i'm
willing to talk. guess what, that's negotiating. >> stick around. we will keep you guys for another block. coming up on "the lead" the president talked about the 46 recommendations he was handed for curbing the nsa's power. they are sitting on his desk. will he follow any of them? let's hear what the president had to say about your privacy today. and from beach towels to bobbleheads, the merchandise alone from the show has raked in $400 million this year. did a & e shoot its golden goose or golden duck? stay with us. this is the quicksilver cash back card from capital one.
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somebody that maybe in hiding thousands of miles away but he still casts a long shadow over today's news conference. of course i'm referring to nsa leaker edward snowden. >> as a consequence of these disclosures, we have countries who actually do the things that mr. snowden says he's worried about very explicitly, engaging in surveillance of their own citizens, targeting political dissidents, targeting and suppressing the press, who somehow are able to sit on the sidelines and act as if it's the united states that has problems when it comes to surveillance and intelligence operations. >> i want to welcome back our panel, van jones, kevin madden, susan page. the nsa surveillance program, some people think, it's so hard to figure out when things started to go wrong for president obama, but some people think it started to go wrong
with this disclosure of the nsa programs because, especially for progressives, who thought that the president was not living up to what he promised. can he regain that trust? >> well, i think so, but listen, the termites that began to eat through his numbers, nsa. that's where the termites started. then the broken website and the broken promise, that's when he fell through. but once you have the president of the united states caught doing things that people just did not expect this president to be doing, for progressives and also, it created a weird alliance between liberals and libertarians. you had progressives and rand paul united against the president. that was the first time that happened. i think the nsa scandal is a bigger deal. >> but a big opportunity. because he does need a lot of legislation to get passed. he does need to rely on republicans in congress to do some kind of grand bargain with him. he can figure out what the security and privacy ought to -
be. he's well positioned to do that. it's an issue he talked about even before he became president. he's seen what it's like from the inside. i think we will hear him talk about this in a serious way in the new year. >> it's interesting, i don't know yet how much the american people actually care about bulk surveillance of metadata. i don't know. but i feel like there was something as dan says, there was something about he's not living up to what he said he would do type thinking. >> it was a stark -- i mean, the remarks he made defending it were a stark contrast to the remarks he made criticizing it when he was a senator and candidate. i think to van's point also, the president did miss an opportunity here when this initial news came out. he could have forged an alliance with a lot of republicans as a really -- and build a really strong national security profile. folks like john boehner and peter king and others that are involved in the intelligence matters up on capitol hill, they were just yearning for him to come out and say something bold
and defend it robustly and he didn't. every once in awhile he gets asked about it, says something, but then goes back and pushes the focus somewhere else. >> we have only another minute but i want to get into this question about iran. president obama today accused his detractors of basically beating their chests on iran. >> there is no need for new sanctions legislation. not yet. now, if iran comes back and says we can't give you assurances that we're not going to weaponize, if they're not willing to address some of their capabilities that we know could end up resulting in them having breakout capacity, it's not going to be hard for us to turn the dials back, strengthen sanctions even further. i'll work with members of congress to put even more pressure on iran. but there's no reason to do it
right now. >> that's a bipartisan coalition including the senate foreign relations committee chairman, a democrat from new jersey, robert menendez. >> you know, there's another point in that clip where he said i know it looks good for you if you're running for office or in office to stand up for tougher sanctions on iran. pretty tough charge because there is a substantive reason that you might think sanctions against iran were a good idea besides the politics of the moment. >> susan, kevin, van, thank you so much. great discussion. appreciate it. coming up on "the lead," if you plan to start your holiday travel this weekend you better stick around to hear what parts of the country are in for in terms of a winter weather nightmare. and later, charlie brown or christmas story? everyone has their favorite holiday flicks. but there's a controversy over what makes a movie a christmas classic. take your hand off that because our pop culture lead is coming up. 't havto think about where their electricity comes from.
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the state of utah's ban on same sex marriage. in the ruling, the judge wrote that the law denies gays and lesbians their quote, fundamental right to marry and called the ban unconstitutional. we'll have more on that story as it comes out. in other national news, the only thing missing from this weekend's holiday travel forecast is a plague of locusts. ice storms, tornadoes, severe flooding and heavy snow could leave many travelers going nowhere fast. the band of rough weather will cover a span of 1200 miles, impacting more than ten states. so which areas could be most in jeopardy of dealing with canceled flights and flooded-out roads? let's get the latest from meteorologist jennifer gray in the cnn weather center. >> oh, jake, this one is going to be big. where the last couple of storm systems have had mainly a wintry component to them, these are mainly going to be a rain event. we have everything from heavy snow to ice to flooding rains, even severe storms possible, as we go through the next 24 to 48
hours. so we're going to break it down for you. we will start with the ice. anywhere from oklahoma city through wichita, kansas city could see anywhere from a quarter inch to half an inch of ice. there are already ice storm warnings in effect, including oklahoma city and tulsa as we go through friday into saturday, so it could be very slippery on the commute if you are traveling for the holiday. also, the severe storms, we could see storms anywhere from shreveport to memphis, even down to south louisiana. we could see anything from tornado to damaging winds with this and that's going to carry on into sunday as well. this shift moves a little more to the east, the severe threat goes down just a tad on sunday but we're still looking at very strong winds and the possibility of isolated tornadoes even for the east coast as we go through sunday. the snow component with this stretches anywhere from kansas city, des moines, even including chicago, milwaukee, minneapolis, could see anywhere from four to
six inches of snow, some isolated amounts, up to eight inches possible and so we also have those snow watches and warnings in effect as well. so heavy rains, two to four inches possible across the ohio valley as we go through saturday. we could see anywhere from five inches of rain possible across the country's midsection and this even stretches up into the northeast. so this will travel to the east on sunday and affect the northeast, new england as well. so temperature-wise, very, very warm. d.c. gets up to the low 70s by saturday and sunday. new york city could be close to 70 degrees on sunday, but then we do return a little closer to normal by the time we get into, you know, christmas eve and christmas day. so could be a mess for travelers this weekend. >> sounds like a potential nightmare. thanks so much. we appreciate it. in the world lead, you shell out for tickets and get a sitter for a big night out at the
theater and this happens. two people are still in the hospital after part of the ceiling collapsed at london's apollo theater. both are listed in stable condition. about 720 people were in the audience when chunks of plaster began raining down. some people stumbled out bloodied, covered in dust. some were trapped inside for a time. thankfully, no one was killed. investigators are now trying to find out what caused the collapse inside the building which has stood in central london for more than a century. the police believe it did not involve a criminal act. who says vladimir putin holds a grudge? today the russian president signed a pardon for one of his most prominent critics. of course, it did take him a decade to do it. putin freed the man so he could see his mother, who is very ill. he was once russia's richest man but a vocal putin critic. in 2003 he was thrown in prison on charges of tax evasion, fraud and embezzlement. his lawyers always claimed the charges were trumped up to shut him up. he immediately went to germany but in a sad twist, his mother
in moscow tells cnn that she may be feeling too sick to go meet him. if kim jong-un wants to fulfill his desperate desire to be seen as a world power, he might want to pay a visit to the north korean equivalent of office max. his country using cutting edge 1994 technology sent a fax to south korea. you heard me right, a fax. threatening to quote, strike mercilessly without notice after protests against the kim regime broke out in seoul this week. but the north's military has not made any big moves, according to south korea's defense ministry. former nba star dennis rodman is in north korea right now. he has said he's not there to involve himself in politics, but perhaps he can teach his friend kim how to do e-mail. coming up on "the lead" with the future of "duck dynasty" up in the air how is a & e handling the p.r. crisis? we get the inside scoop, next. avo: the volkswagen "sign then drive
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i'm jake tapper. in the money lead today, you mess with the papa duck and apparently the whole raft gets rattled. the family behind the hit reality show "duck dynasty" is standing behind their patriarch who was suspended over controversial comments he made about blacks and homosexuality. it could mean the show's future is up in the air. phil robertson took a lot of heat for an article where he called homosexuality a sin and also painted a rosy picture of what life was like for african-americans in rural louisiana during the pre-civil rights era. robert zo robertson said quote, i never heard one black person say these doggone white people, not a word. pre pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, they were godly, they were happy. no one was singing the blues. it glosses over voting rights and klan lynchings and constant reminders of second class status not to mention the blues was born out of the struggle of african-americans in the deep south. a video surfaced that shows
robertson referring to homosexuals during god haters at a church event in 2010. >> women with women, men with men, they committed indecent acts with one another and they received in themselves the penalty for their perversions. they're full of murder, envy, strife, hatred. they are insolent, arrogant god haters. >> robertson's defenders point out these are his religious beliefs but after backlash from gay rights groups, a & e put robertson on indefinite suspension which prompted this response from his family. we are disappointed phil has been placed on hiatus for expressing his faith. we have had a successful working relationship with a & e but as a family we cannot imagine the show going forward without our patriarch at the helm. what does this all mean for the future of this incredibly
popular franchise? "duck dynasty" with what forbes predicted would be $400 million in merchandise sold this year alone, including two best-selling books and a christmas album that's on the billboard charts. how will a & e manage the show which has been ratings gold and a financial boon in the face of these threats of boycotts from robertson's supporters? sharon waxman is editor in chief of the rap.com and joins us live from los angeles. thanks for being with us. you spoke exclusively with a top executive at a & e about how they reached the decision to suspend robertson. what did they say? >> basically, it wasn't a very long and tortured discussion. i think they took that decision fairly quickly, fairly decisively. what happened was that "gq" article broke in which the comments about homosexuality being a sin and beastiality, it was in the same sentence and they got a phone call from glaad, the gay and lesbian
advocacy group early in the morning when that broke and very quickly that day, the ceo of a & e, who is a very powerful executive, runs the network, took the decision to put robertson on hiatus. >> to play devil's advocate here, this is not a surprise to me that phil robertson feels this way. i have to say, you know, a & e will be running a "duck dynasty" marathon this weekend. it seems a little hypocritical. >> i think that's a fair question. interesting thing is first of all, this thing has blown up to the size that it has. it has just been this insane debate, virulent on both sides, by the way. glaad has told us they have never received more blowback on any issue in recent memory, which is amazing, and just judging by i see the comments that you guys have going on, the comments on our site, it's a debate not just for people who are bible thumpers and pro-"duck dynasty" and people in favor of gay rights. it's more subtle than that.
are first amendment issues really involved here, really, what did a & e expect when they put a guy who basically embraces redneck culture and gives them a show, a top rated reality show on television, and he goes on an interview and the cover of "gq" magazine, what do you think he's going to say? at the same time, what they're saying is this goes against our fundamental values as a company. don't forget also, they have other networks at a & e, lifetime and history channel, and they have a broad base of viewers that also includes people who don't agree with phil robertson's views. >> some high profile conservatives from texas senator ted cruz to louisiana governor bobby jindal wasted no time at all going all in for robertson, supporting his right to free speech. sarah palin of course. they're not alone. some people are threatening to boycott a & e over the suspension. tell us about some of the other backlash received in the wake of this decision and is there a way, is there a path out for
them, a way to wiggle out of this controversy without losing revenue and supporters? >> you're right, this has spiked really red-hot very quickly. so there are a & e executives who have gotten threats. there is a campaign, you know, online petition is not that big a deal today and i think it's in the tens of thousands. even if it's in the hundreds of thousands, that wouldn't mean to me necessarily a huge groundswell of support for phil robertson's views or against a decision to suspend him. the show is very popular. so that's not that surprising and it's an issue that's at the very core of what have been culture wars as you well know. the whole question of gay marriage has been -- has had kind of a 180 degree flip this year, in the past year. so the people who are basically, who may feel they are on the losing end of that cultural battle are lashing out in some ways. i think threats are wooiare wayr the line. on twitter they are putting out
the phone number of a & e and urging people to call the network and protest that. what a & e has done here which is place a show that is not in production, i should say, on hiatus, is they have left themselves some flexibility. so this is a number one show, as you pointed out quite correctly. it is driving a huge amount of revenue and huge amount of brand recognition for the network. they are not going to throw that away easily. at the same time, they will need to find that path out. they can't just embrace phil robertson. they can't say you know what, never mind, it's his point of view and now he's thought about it. there is going to have to be some kind of reconciliation in which, for example, phil robertson apologizes for offending people. i mean, glaad has reached out to say look, we would like to work with him, you know, he did offer an initial apology, you recall. but he doesn't want to apologize for his religion and i think
that's really where you're trying to thread that needle. a & e doesn't want to offend christian viewers, that's a huge number, and as they pointed out, by the way, the bible, that hit series, was theirs. >> corinthians. he was quoting corinthians. it's a difficult pickle they find themselves in. >> there is a way out. there is a way for phil robertson to recognize he has offended people and to apologize in some way, to maybe do some outreach and there's a way for a & e to welcome him back and they have the time to do that because the show is on hiatus. >> they will need to do it because they make so much money for them. sharon waxman, thank you so much. i appreciate it. coming up in politics, he's got a lot of experience when it comes to china and the white house, potentially has a lot to gain by getting him out of the way. let's look at the politics behind the administration's latest nomination. in pop culture, harry potter is headed for the stage. stay with us. [ male announcer ] if we could see energy...
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deception. seems apropo after the obama administration announced plans to nominate montana senator max baucus to be the next ambassador to china. president obama even delivered a personal ringing endorsement at his news conference today. >> max baucus is going to be an outstanding ambassador to china, and i would like a swift confirmation. >> it would reward one of the authors of the affordable care act and would likely give the administration an easy path through a likely tricky nomination process. senators love to confirm senators, after all. but is there even more to this than meets the eye? is there something that maybe we're missing? well, it wouldn't be the first time the administration used the beijing job to serve its own interests. according to several sources, he nominated jon huntsman to the china gig in 2009 hoping it would sideline him or at least damage him for the presidential race in 2012. so is the baucus nomination about foreign policy or is this
a kansas city shuffle? on a foreign policy level, senator max baucus seems an odd choice for america's next ambassador to china. the montana democrat does not speak chinese, while he knows about trade issues, baucus is not known for a history of ties to the country. according to the "wall street journal" china's citizens are taking to their version of twitter to voice concern over how the 72-year-old will fare in their notoriously thick beijing air. one post quoted reads so old, don't die in the beijing smog. but if you fan away the smog and look at this assignment through the lens of politics and democrats wanting to keep control of the senate in the 2014 midterms, well, then sending baucus to china makes perfect sense. here's how many in the senate think this game of musical chairs may play out inside the rotunda. the six-term lawmaker has already announced he's retiring from the senate leaving his seat up for grabs to republicans in
the next election. being sent to china means the democratic governor of montana could appoint a fellow democrat to fill the seat temporarily. making that democrat an incumbent which provides a big leg up for 2014 in terms of fund-raising, name recognition and power. baucus is also the chair of the powerful finance committee. when he leaves, democrat ron wyden of oregon could take his place and that would leave wyden's position as chairman of the senate energy committee open. possibly helping another democrat in 2014. if the energy committee chairmanship is filled by vulnerable louisiana democrat mary landrieu, that could also help the democrats in the midterms. landrieu as energy committee chairwoman would likely see big oil and gas turn on the spigot of campaign cash for her senate run next year. so when it all shakes out, sending one democrat to the other side of the planet could be seen as a way to preserve two more democrats in washington, d.c. as baucus prepares for his assignment in china, should he
be confirmed, perhaps the politicos here should consider that life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated. i want to bring in chief congressional correspondent dana bash, who has been following this story. you actually caught up with max baucus, who does not give a lot of interviews today. what did he have to say? >> first, i should say he was leaving the senate for the year and he was in a good mood. maybe that's why he agreed to stop. nominees to these posts usually don't talk about it before they are confirmed, but he happens to be as you said a sitting united states senator, so he didn't have much of a choice. listen to what he said. >> honored, very humbled and it's an honor to be able to continue public service. i love service, like trying to help solve people's problems and this is a new challenge i very much look forward to. >> china in particular -- >> china is one of the most, if not the most important relationship in the country, in
the world. i very much want to help the president. >> he was downplaying the idea that, you know, that he has a background regarding china. he certainly doesn't have the same kind of background that jon huntsman did. but he, according to sources close to him, has always had a very strong interest in china, obviously as chair of the finance committee. he deals with a lot of issues that are related to china and the other thing that is interesting is that his sort of political hero is mike mansfield, who left the senate, he was also senator from montana and went to be ambassador to japan. so he sort of sees a nice symmetry in being able to follow the footsteps of somebody who he respected so much. >> the posts often go to big political names, we have a kennedy there right now. am i being machiavellian when i think you look at baucus from here, democrats get help holding on to the seat, all the other
stuff, mary landrieu gets help for her seat. am i being paranoid? >> sometimes i think we reporters give politicians too much credit but this time, i don't think we are. i think you are totally on to something. first and foremost because the idea i'm told came from joe biden. he and max baucus are very good friends. they had lunch in november and he first brought up the idea then, just to prove your point. jim messina who of course was in the white house for president obama, he ran his campaign, he happened to be baucus' former chief of staff, he pushed the idea. >> a crafty devil. >> i will tell you, in the halls of the senate today, mary landrieu was openly talking about the prospect of becoming energy chair and what it means for her home state of louisiana, again running for re-election and ron wyden, i was joking about it with him an hour ago, the idea he could potentially take over the finance committee. it really is not -- you're not too cynical. in this case, this really is a possibility. >> just when you think you're too cynical, no. >> we'll prove that it's a fact. >> thank you so much. up next on "the lead," it's
got a dance number, heartwarming plot twists and several characters with grinch-like teeth, which has some on the internet asking how in the world could "love actually" not be considered a holiday classic? we'll delve deeper into what's become a contentious christmas debate in our pop culture lead, next. life's an adventure when you're with her.
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welcome back to "the lead." a little dessert for you now in the pop culture lead. it's been ten years since "love actually" hit theaters, the ensemble movie that features pretty british people and billy bob thornton, searching for romance at christmas. then since the release, two camps have merged. those who think "love actually" is a new christmas classic and those forced to watch it next to people who think it's a new christmas classic. in a season of classic holiday
movies, starting with "it's a wonderful life." >> every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings. >> and "miracle on 34th street." in the '60s a couple tv specials were added, "how the grinch stole christmas." and "a charlie brown christmas." >> this doesn't seem to fit the modern spirit. >> but now a slightly newer batch of movies are starting to crowd in on the family favorites. does will ferrell's "elf" deserve a place on the dvr? probably not. but make no mistake, the most heated debate about christmas movies centers around the film "love actually." does "love actually" deserve to be considered a new christmas classic? film critic chris orr says emphatically no. >> it's just a very strange conception of love that sort of starts with physical attraction and then goes immediately to the happily ever after.
>> associate editor emma green says yes. >> the strength of a movie like "love actually" is to me it feels more personal. it feels like something i can see in my real life potentially, hopefully, and something that feels fresh. >> earlier this month, an office conversation turned into a heated debate. "love actually" turned into a battlefield. >> basically, every one of our co-workers got up from their cubes, stopped what they were doing and surrounded us fight club style as we debated loudly over the merits of the movie. >> it was awesome. everything ground to a halt. >> they took their debate to the web with dueling articles. their work garnered more than 50,000 facebook shares and i confess, i was one of them. the argument is brutal and fun. the now decade old british film "love actually" follows nine story lines, each about some version of affection. young love, familiar companionship, ill-timed lust, truly joyful anticipation.
orr argues the plot lines are not only implausible but superficial and even immoral, far from the virtues expected this time of year. >> i think "love actually" is not merely an unromantic movie but is almost a series of money shots, like a mash-up of the first and last scenes of a variety of other romantic comedies without any of the middle part in which people actually get to know each other and fall in love. >> green says love is the spirit of the season, no matter how sloppy its expression. >> they don't have time to show all of the four hour conversations that eventually lead people to fall in love intellectually. it's more about that magic chemistry moment that allows people to fall into the crush zone and i think that's a very valid and magical, wonderful thing to show. >> it should be noted that "love actually" got mixed reviews when it came out, including orr's own scathing write-up. >> it was even worse than i remembered it. the knightley scene was creepier
than i remembered it. >> for the record, "a christmas story" was originally panned but that criticism didn't stick. now that movie is an undisputed classic right alongside "love actually"? actually, i'm not going to take a position in this great debate. you don't even have to go far to find "love actually" and just in case you didn't know, it's streaming on netflix. it will go down as one of the most successful books and movie franchises in modern history and soon harry potter could be casting fans of the theater under his spell. j.k. rowling, author of the series, confirmed she's working on a new stage play about the wizard focusing on his life before he went to hogwarts and will feature popular characters from the book series. she will co-produce the product but will not write the script. we're not sure who gets that lucky honor. the stage play is expected to open in london in 2015. make sure to follow me on
twitter and also at theleadcnn. that's it for "the lead." i'm jake tapper. i'll be back in two hours substitute anchoring on "outfront" at 7:00 p.m. eastern. i turn you over to wolf blitzer right next door in "the situation room." mr. blitzer? happening now, obama on the hot seat. the president gets a grilling at the end of a bad year for the white house. he takes the most heat over nsa spying amid new snooping revelations. he signaled some changes are on the way. general gone wild. an air force report reveals a top nuclear missile commander was removed from his post for boozing. and boorish behavior abroad. we have the details. and sea world is reeling right now after a cnn film exposes its treatment of killer whales. first music stars canceled their performances. now a new blow from some very important customers. i'm wolf